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Seed Keywords Guide: What They Are And How To Use Them For SEO

You may not be aware but you've already dealt with seed keywords if you've written a blog or conducted keyword research. This is because they're one of the first things you'll need for your website's content.

Finding and developing seed keywords are essential to an effective keyword research process. Creating a seed keyword list is a strong foundation for your content strategy.

In this article, I'll show you what seed keywords are and how to find broad seed keywords that you can use in your SEO strategy.

TL;DR

  • Seed keywords are short phrases most relevant to your niche. They are the starting point for the keyword research process.
  • Seed keywords are helpful for generating topic ideas and find long-tail keywords you can rank quickly for.
  • Seed keywords are a great way to build topic clusters that can win you E-E-A-T compliance.
  • You can find seed keywords by extracting them from your main topic and analyzing competitors’ keywords.

What are seed keywords?

Seed keywords are short-tail keywords that describe a topic broadly. They're usually comprised of only one or two words and are a good starting point for keyword research. They are often popular terms with high search volume, making them hard to rank for.

Seed keywords, also called head terms, can help you generate other related keywords to create an extensive keyword list for your keyword research process.

For example, if you sell dresses, some examples of seed keywords are "wedding dresses," "silk dresses," or "handmade dresses." You can add modifiers to these keywords and sprout new long-tail keywords, such as "summer wedding dresses," or "handmade cotton dresses," and so on.

Entering a seed keyword into the Surfer Keyword Research tool will help you generate hundreds of potential keywords.

As you can see, one seed keyword can create an infinite list of content ideas.

To create a list of seed keywords, find the most broadly relevant phrases associated with your service or product. But don’t be too generic – words like “headphones” or “saas tools” won’t help you find keyword terms you can rank for. Instead, find more specific seed words, such as "saas payroll."

Why are seed keywords important for keyword research?

Seed keywords are important because they'll help you establish topical authority using a list of additional relevant keywords to write about. Building a solid list of relevant seed keywords can help you streamline keyword research and organize your content effectively. Seed keywords have two important points, explained below. 

Generate related keyword and topic ideas

Seed keywords are hard to rank for, but you can use them to find related long tail keywords that your audience is searching for. For example, using “wireless headphones” as a seed keyword shows a monthly search volume of 368,000 via Keyword Surfer.

If you dig deeper into the related keyword ideas in the SERP, you'll find several related keywords, some short-tail and others long-tail. But all with the potential to create content related to your original seed term.

After identifying a few relevant seed keywords for your website, use the free Keyword Surfer Chrome extension to add modifiers and generate related keywords. Finally, find search terms that are more specific and have higher user intent to improve your chances of ranking in the SERPs.

Build topic clusters

Topic clusters are a great way to build E-E-A-T compliance in the eyes of Google, which is a ranking factor. Seed keywords can help you generate keyword clusters that are connected by a parent topic.

For example, if your company offers tools for employee productivity, entering a seed term like "time management" in Surfer Keyword Research will generate additional keyword clusters that can help you cover relevant subtopics.

You can browse through dozens of clusters connected to your main subject and choose from thousands of long-tail keyword ideas. 

How to find seed keywords

There are several ways to find seed keywords, from readily available information in the search engines to finding head terms used by your competitors. Identifying broad level keywords is a fairly straightforward process. The most important thing is knowing the main topics your business deals in.

Here, I'll explain the most effective ways to find seed keywords for your search engine optimization strategy.

1. Generate seed keyword ideas from your main topic

The most intuitive way for you to find seed keywords is to think of the main topics your business is associated with. We recommend you start by jotting down the most popular broad-level keywords you want your audience to know about your business.

Doing so will give you a starting point without being overwhelmed by analyzing your competitors' websites or auditing popular posts. We'll come to those later.

You'll likely already know your website's main topic. For example, if your blog is about keto diets, enter the topic into Surfer's Keyword Research tool.

Select your target country, and click Create Keyword Research.

The keyword tool will generate hundreds of related keyword ideas for your blog, complete with information on search volume and keyword difficulty. Because seed keywords are popular terms that have high search volume, you can sort the list by high to low search volume.

Doing so will bring up related head keywords on the top.

For each seed keyword you find in Surfer’s Keyword Research tool, there are several keyword clusters organized by their topic. You can enter these head terms and repeat the steps above to find even more broad search terms.

Use the keyword clusters to build pillar pages surrounded by semantically relevant content.

2. Find your competitor’s keywords

Analyzing your competitors' websites is one of the most (if not the most) important parts of conducting keyword research. Considering that you want to rank for similar queries as your competitors, your seed keywords will likely look the same. 

You can find your competitors' seed keywords using Surfer’s Audit by entering the page URL you’re interested in. For example, I was looking to update our blog post on LSI keywords for search engine optimization.

The first step I took was to search my competitor's websites for keywords they're using to rank well.

Because a significant portion of our users reside in the USA, I selected it as my target country for the audit and hit Create Audit.

I selected the Words filter In the Terms To Use section and sorted by the Action column until it showed the All good! label on top. This helped me see my competitor's seed keywords for the URL I entered, on top.

This can give you a competitive edge and help you get ahead in the search rankings for keywords your competitors are targeting.

3. Look in Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) can help you identify your most important search queries. You'll find that your content already ranks for particular keywords in search engine rankings. And can use this information to find even more seed keywords.

To use Google Search Console to find keywords, head to Performance > Search Results in the left panel inside GSC. You'll find a list of keywords your content already ranks for in the Queries tab on the right.

Although there is no specific filter for "seed keywords", I find that sorting the Impressions column in descending order generally shows seed keywords on top.

You can export this list to browse through and identify relevant seed keywords for your blog. Repeat the process from step 1 using Surfer Keyword Research to find even more seed keywords. Make sure that you've installed Google Search Console correctly on your website before you go looking for keywords.

You can also find seed keywords in the search engine result pages themselves.

4. Use information in Google’s SERPs

SERPs are a never-ending source of new keyword ideas but they're still missing crucial information like search volume and traffic insights. Fortunately, there are SEO tools today that provide this information readily.

And while most of them are paid, you can use the Keyword Surfer Chrome extension for free. Sure, we could be biased, but the 4.5 stars from over 400,000 users can't be.

Install the extension and enter your website's main topic into the Google search bar. You'll find a ton of related keywords on the right panel. Sort this list by search volume (since seed keywords are often popular) to arrange related seed keywords on the top.

Browse through the list of keywords and select seed keywords to add to a collection. For example, I found several using the seed keyword, "weight loss."

If you'd prefer to do this manually, there are three sections you should especially look out for when searching for seed keywords.

First, have a look at the People Also Ask section. There, you will find popular questions that people want to find answers to. While questions are better suited to long tail keyword phrases, they can still provide clues to high level topics that you can use as a seed keyword.

For example, I typed "accounting tools" in the search bar, and one of the questions in the PAA section gave me clues to 4 seed terms. I can now use these for further research into my content ideas.

At the bottom of the SERP, you'll find Related searches; these are especially useful because they not only provide you with additional seed keywords but also give you ideas for modifiers you can add to the ones you already have.

The third section that you must look at is Google autocomplete suggestions. It suggests modifiers you can add to the seed keywords you research, but you can use creativity to transform these suggestions into seed keywords.

For example, if you type in “protein powder,” Google suggests “protein powder benefits” and “protein powder weight loss.”

5. Pay attention to online forums and communities

Find out which forums and websites your target audience congregates in. These can be a goldmine of information you won't find in the SERPs or anywhere else. And what better way to get it, than from your audiences themselves?

Browse Facebook Groups, Reddit or Quora to start with, and then delve deeper into your niche-focussed communities. For example, it's a no-brainer that the SEO community on Reddit is important to us for the same reason. There are several discussions around keyword optimization and Surfer's tools.

The answer is yes, by the way.

You can use search operators to find web pages related to your seed keyword. For example, enter either [intitle:forum keyword] or [inurl:forum keyword] to find page titles or URLs with your seed keyword.

These discussions can give you ideas for seed keywords to use in your keyword research process and to create content.

6. Use Google Keyword Planner for more seed keywords

Google Keyword Planner is a widely underestimated keyword research tool that you can use to develop keyword ideas. You'll only need a Google Ads account but it only takes a minute and doesn't require your payment information.

Use the Discover new keywords tab to enter a seed keyword and let Google do the rest for you. For example, I searched for "car lease" to generate a list of related seed keywords.

And sure enough, Google Keyword Planner threw up 127 keyword ideas that I can then browse and shortlist head terms from.

Unfortunately, the displayed search volume isn't helpful, but you can use the Keyword Surfer Chrome extension I showed you before to see the exact figures.

7. Talk to Sales and Support teams

Don’t underestimate the importance of speaking directly with your customers and customer-facing teams. It’s essential to get to know the terms and phrases people actually use when they're talking about the challenges your product can help solve.

Find the time to speak with sales reps and customer support folks to determine what users struggle with the most. Use this information as seed keywords and craft content that is better suited to your audience.

Conclusion

There's no strict definition of a seed keyword, but think of them as one or two words encompassing your business. Sometimes, they're the first thing that may come to your mind; other times you will have to think deeper.

If you start by identifying seed keywords, keyword research will be a much simpler process. Choose them carefully because they'll serve as the foundation for your content strategy and will help you organize topic clusters. Developing the right seed keywords will improve your chances of ranking and attracting organic traffic.

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Screenshot of Surfer SEO Content Editor interface, displaying the 'Essential Content Marketing Metrics' article with a content score of 82/100. The editor highlights sections like 'Key Takeaways' and offers SEO suggestions for terms such as 'content marketing metrics